Parent and child hand-in-hand showcasing care and custody relationship

Sole Custody or Joint Custody? Navigating Child Custody Matters in Singapore

Divorce and separation are two very emotionally taxing procedures to go through, and even more so when children are involved. To make this process much more manageable and to ensure that the outcomes are favorable for both you and your child, it is important that you understand Singapore’s legal framework and how it affects child care and custody arrangements. Read on to find out everything you need to know about child custody and care and control in Singapore. 


What is Child Custody

Child custody refers to the legal arrangement that determines which parent, following a divorce, will be responsible for major decisions regarding the child. These can include those related to the child’s education, religion, and healthcare. 

When a couple with children goes through divorce or separation, determining care and custody arrangements is a critical matter. In many cases, joint custody is favoured to ensure both parents continue to play a role in the child’s life. However, specific arrangements can vary depending on the unique circumstances of each family. It’s crucial to work with a qualified family lawyer to navigate care and custody matters and to create a plan that best serves the child’s welfare.


Types of Custody Orders in Singapore

  • Sole Custody Order

A sole custody order grants only one parent the legal authority to make all major decisions on behalf of the child without needing the other parent’s consent or opinion. This order will usually only be given if the court deems it to be the best for the child. For example, if there is a history of abuse or if both parents are unable to cooperate and communicate effectively. 

  • Joint Custody Order

In a joint custody order, both parents are given the equal responsibility to make major decisions on behalf of their child. In such an arrangement, both parties are required to communicate and cooperate together to make decisions that align with the child’s well-being, and development, and to ensure that the best interests of the child are upheld. This is the most common custody arrangement in Singapore.

  • Hybrid Custody Order

In a hybrid arrangement, custody is given to only one parent. However, unlike in a sole custody order, the parent with custodial rights must consult the other parent before making a decision on certain matters when given a hybrid custody order.

  • Split Custody Order

When there is more than one child in a marriage, the custody of each child may be granted to different parents. For example, in a family with two children, each of their custody is given to the father and mother respectively. 


What is Care and Control?

Parent nurturing child illustrating care and custody scenario

Care and control refers to the day-to-day care of a child following a divorce. It determines which parent the child will reside with and who will be responsible for their daily routines, upbringing, and overall well-being. Decisions regarding care and control are pivotal to ensuring a stable and nurturing environment for the child. 

The parent granted care and control must assume the role of a primary caregiver, taking care of the child’s physical, emotional, and practical needs daily. The other parent will be given access to the child. Arrangements to meet the child will have to be made between both parties. But if an agreement cannot be reached, the court can decide on access matters too. 


Factors the Court Takes Into Consideration

In Singapore, the court prioritises the best interests of the child when determining all arrangements related to them including care and custody. Some factors include:

  • The child’s wishes
  • The child’s emotional ties with each parents
  • The child’s relationship with any siblings
  • The parent’s ability to provide a safe and nurturing environment
  • The parent’s ability to provide for the child’s needs
  • Any history of abuse or neglect
  • The parent’s ability and willingness to cooperate and facilitate a positive relationship with the other parent and the child

If you’re navigating divorce and would like to find out more about how you can gain a more positive outcome for yourself, consider enlisting the services of a divorce lawyer in Singapore who specialises in care and custody matters. However, it is important to note that the court does not take into consideration the parents’ wishes when deciding on the child’s care and custody arrangements as they will only care about what’s best for the child.

Family Law Specialists is a team of divorce lawyers in Singapore with an expertise in handling contested divorces. If you require more legal assistance, do not hesitate to contact us here.


Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, a divorce lawyer specialising in family law can provide valuable assistance with care and custody matters in Singapore. They can help you understand the legal processes, provide guidance on negotiating and drafting care and custody agreements, and represent your interests in court if necessary. Engaging an experienced family lawyer is essential in ensuring that the child’s welfare is protected and that the arrangements meet legal requirements.

Legal custody pertains to the right and responsibility to make important decisions on behalf of the child, such as education, healthcare, and religious upbringing. Physical custody, on the other hand, involves where the child primarily resides. In many cases, one parent may have physical custody, while both parents may share legal custody, allowing them to make decisions together. Understanding the distinction between these types of custody is essential when navigating care and custody matters in Singapore.

Yes, care and custody arrangements can be modified in Singapore. If there are significant changes in circumstances or if one parent wishes to request modifications to the existing arrangement, they can apply to the court for a variation order. The court will consider the child’s best interests when evaluating such requests, and modifications may be made to ensure that the arrangements continue to serve the child’s welfare as they grow and circumstances change.

Joint custody means both parents share the responsibilities and decision-making authority regarding their child’s upbringing.

Sole custody grants one parent full control and responsibility for the child, while joint custody involves shared decision-making between both parents.

Yes, if the court believes it is not in the child’s best interest due to factors such as domestic violence or parental incapacity.

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